THE DIABOLIC by S.J. Kincaid | Book Chat on Chapters 32~40

THE DIABOLIC by S.J. Kincaid | Book Chat on Chapters 32~40

I had the strength of four men, yes. But I did not have the strength to endure another loss like that one. Having a heart that burned with emotion meant having a flame that could be doused in an instant by forces you could not fight, perils you could not see. To care was to be helpless in the worst possible way. (280)

Welcome to the third book chat for The Diabolic!!! I’m so close to finishing the book, and I cannot wait to see what happens… but for now, let’s analyze what we do know from the book. 😊

(And the quote above came after Nemesis realized that Tyrus was sick, and was worried that she would lose yet another person that she managed to care about, despite that she was a Diabolic. Talk about beautiful writing, right?)

How’s Nemesis doing on her journey to be human?

If you asked me this question last week, I would have said that she was doing pretty good.

But now —


Let’s do some deep evaluation, shall we? 🤓

The beginning of Chapter 32 brought us right into a pivotal part of Nemesis discovering that she was more than just a Diabolic: she spared Neveni’s life even thought she knew she “should have killed [Neveni]. It would have been better to have killed her” (259).

Which is so righteous, right? It’s so human — sure. But then I got to thinking how someone mentioned how the aristocrats of the universe were not completely human because of too many genetic modifications throughout generations and generations of the family using technology to change their genes.

The reason why people think Nemesis is less human is because 1) she’s genetically engineered and 2) she has less capacity to feel any emotion except love for Sidonia, the reason why she’s alive. However, now that it’s pretty clear Nemesis can feel a plethora of emotions and love another person (cough cough TYRUS cough — oh, and don’t forget Deadly), she’s sorta defying #2 on the list.

Now, let’s look at some other “human” characters, such as the Emperor. Well, he’s sure human, but he’s 1) definitely genetically engineered because he constantly changes his appearance like everyone else and 2) he doesn’t seem to be able to have empathy for, um, anyone. All he cares about his keeping his power and place in the universe as Emperor.

So… what does this mean?

Is our definition of “human” not right yet? Is Kincaid trying to show us how Nemesis not only just an equal human to someone like the Emperor, but is actually more human than the Emperor?

Hmmmm. I’m not sure about the answer to that yet– but let’s continue.

I’m also confused as to why Nemesis’s journey of accepting that she’s human has been dragged out this long. This is partially due to the fact that every time Nemesis thinks she’s human (yay!) she immediately counters it with “NO! I’m a Diabolic. I can’t be compassionate. Let me be cruel to everyone I care about around me!”

That’s such an annoying delaying factor!!! GAAHHHHHH

For example:

  • Nemesis realizes that she loves Tyrus.

There was genetic cause for what I felt, what I was experiencing. It could only be my humanity. Pure, inborn humanity. Donia had been right. I’d had it in me all along. (274)

  • A few pages later, when Nemesis is struck by fear of losing Tyrus to his sickness, she vows to herself that “[she] would never experience that weakness again” (280).

That weakness was the exact same thing that thrilled her and made her happy before: to think that she could feel and be compassionate and love another person other than Sidonia, which would therefore make her human. She literally says that “[t]o care was to be helpless in the worst possible way” (280).


And then…

After all, I was a Diabolic, and Diabolics had no souls. Everyone knew that. I would never again be such a fool as to doubt it. (282)


However, as I continued on with the story, I finally got to the part where Nemesis realizes something that will change her entire plan:

Sidonia’s BAAACK!!!

“Oh, Nemesis, I’ve missed you, too. Have you been well?”

It took a moment to muster my reply to this ridiculous question. “No,” I said.

She smiled sadly. “Nor have I.”

But that was going to change now. For both of us. (289)

This little scene got me thinking — well, first of all, it was so wonderful to have Sidonia back. At the same time, though, Sidonia just cut off Nemesis’s journey of creating her own purpose in universe without having to constantly worry about protecting Sidonia.

But… Nemesis’s path to being human had been stalled over and over again. Was this Kincaid’s way of telling us that Nemesis needed someone she loved — Sidonia — to help her continue on and realize that she’s just as human as Sidonia?

Sidonia was the only person Nemesis loved for the beginning years of her life, and of course Nemesis would be  negatively affected by Sidonia’s false death. So it makes sense how strange and aloof Nemesis had been acting. Perhaps, for her, Tyrus was just something to distract her from the grief she felt for Sidonia. Perhaps Nemesis didn’t even realize that she felt grief until she saw Sidonia again because she was stuck in the mentality of how, as a Diabolic, she shouldn’t feel anything, and therefore cannot — shouldn’t — feel sadness.

If Tyrus had been carrying me across the river all this time, then I was turning scorpion and returning to my true nature — protecting Sidonia at all costs. She would always come first, even if it required me to sting him. (292)

(There we go! The Frog and the Scorpion reference!!!)

Though Sidonia still is a pretty flat character, even 300 pages into the story, I love the gentleness and care she brings into Nemesis’s life.

“I live for you, Donia. Not Tyrus.

“Maybe I just want you to live for yourself,” she said softly. (304)

I do hope that Sidonia shows some more personality and character in the remaining chapters of the book, and I hope that Nemesis finds out what she wants with Sidonia by her side. If those two things happen, I would be so happy with the conclusion of this book and definitely look forward to the second book — but we’ll see!

Car Crashes Apparently Don’t Matter Anymore

This is a random observation, but when Nemesis slammed the hovercar in the wall of the Annex (a tower in the Central Square), I thought it was because she knew she was stronger than a normal human, and therefore would be able to survive the crash.

But then this happened:

The vehicle slammed to a stop. Amid the tremendous crumpling of metal, I felt a cone of silken softness envelop me. I clawed my way free of the safety net, then kicked my way out through the window, crawling out like some grotesque newborn creature from its broken shell. (260)

Nemesis knew the hovercraft contained a working safety net that apparently feels like “silken softness.” Can you imagine that? Car crashes — or, in this case, hovercraft-crashes — aren’t a concern anymore. Something that causes so much death and injury and accidents in our reality doesn’t worry anyone in the world of The Diabolic because of their amazing technology.

And I sorta have to wonder — will that ever happen in my lifetime? When this aspect of danger is taken away from a daily thing like driving a car, people will most likely become less cautious, like Nemesis. Would more car accidents occur as a result if nothing bad will come out of it other than the need to replace the car?

To be honest, the way Nemesis describes it, being in a hovercraft accident sounds pretty comfortable. I still can’t wrap my mind around connecting the phrases “car crash” with “silken softness,” because I associate “silken softness” with something like wrapping yourself in ten layers of blankets.


And lastly…

Sadly, I’m starting to realize Tyrus ≠ Kaz Brekker.

I mean, I’m just stating the truth here. Kaz Brekker from the Six of Crows duet was clever and perfect and eloquent without trying or needing to rub it in readers’ faces.

The keys words here are WITHOUT TRYING, everyone.

There’s something about reading about Tyrus revealing his plans that sounds kinda… forced. I can’t quite put my hands on it, but I know it’s there.

For example, when Nemesis realized that the Emperor had sent Tyrus to release the Mist (the bioweapon) on the Luminars, Tyrus proceeded to give Nemesis an explanation that consistence of two large paragraphs that took up nearly the entire page of 265, then more rambling on page 266, and he finally gets to his point and concludes on page 267.

Like, dude. We get it. You had a brilliant plan. But you know you’re not cool like Kaz when you have to take up three pages of explaining how noble you were for not killing off an entire planet (yay?) while Kaz would just shrug it off and walk away in the span of one sentence, but in that, we get more about his character and nobility and utter amazingness than what we got from Tyrus.

And when you try to tell Kaz again that he’s so noble and brave he’ll probably hit you with his cane out of annoyance because helloooo — he has an impossible-made-possible-by-Kaz heist to complete and doesn’t have time for your petty phrases.

The applause for Tyrus just died down.

(And now I want to reread Six of Crows so badly. I might just do that during Spring Break and have my heart torn into a million pieces again — but that’s part of being a reader, right? 😆)

So… idk. Tyrus isn’t as fantastic as I thought he was a week ago. I think part of this stems from the fact that I compared him to Kaz, and let’s face it, any guy book character I compare to Kaz will diminish into a speck of dust on an unworn piece of old jewelry in the Chrysanthemum.

I also don’t appreciate Nemesis’s praising of Tyrus:

“I am amazed by you,” I remarked to him. “You think ten steps ahead of others.” (269)

Doesn’t that sound a little bit forced to you? Inej never said that to Kaz. And Kaz would probably cut her off while Inej was in the middle of saying “amazed.” And to be honest, it seems a little bit out of character for Nemesis to praise Tyrus like that.


(And guess what? Kaz thinks 50 steps ahead of others so *ahem* if Tyrus really wants some praise he should, like, step up his game a little more… Just saying. ?)

Alright, that’s it for this book chat! This was my favorite one to write for The Diabolic so far, because so many opinions of mine changed — on Nemesis and Tyrus especially. If there’s not any more amazing friendship between Sidonia and Nemesis, I don’t see how I can adore the ending of this book.

But the best books usually surprise us, right? Maybe this will be one of those books!👍 I hope so!

Thanks for reading, and I will cya next time!

~Zoie 🤗

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